My own battle… of the bulgeBy Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I knew I had to do something after the Blind Auditions for “The Voice of the Philippines.” There’s nothing like seeing yourself on television week after week after week, to get you to light a fire under your butt.
Fast forward to the Battles… my own mother was happy. And it takes a lot to make her happy when it comes to how I look.
I have written about trips to the gym, intent on losing the extra weight that I had been carrying since… I know not when. The poundage began creeping up on me during the tour of “Cinderella” a few years ago. Heading to those wonderful foodie destinations like mainland
China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand had my palate jumping for joy, and my waistline wailing in discontent. The dumplings, noodles, Peking duck, beer on poker nights and the late-night post-show snacking all took their toll on my body, and sent it on a trip from which I felt I couldn’t return. Until now.
The scale is giving me positive numbers. Twitter followers are sending compliments. And my clothes are fitting a lot better (translation: I’m not spilling out of them), much to my surprise!
My husband gets credit for a lot of it. God bless him and his voracious appetite for health-related research and information. Asthma attacks prompted him to seek alternative means to stay healthy. Previously, an attack meant a cycle of strong meds and a trip to the hospital. However, since 2011, he’s been antibiotic-free and hasn’t needed to be confined for any reason. He’s fit and in great shape, which is quite the inspiration.
(Bear in mind, dear reader, that whatever is written here is not meant as a substitute for your doctor’s advice. Kindly consult with your regular physician, first and foremost.)
What we’ve found and read up on seemed, at the outset, counterintuitive. However, the longer we stuck to this way of eating and living, the healthier we both became. As a result, my singing actually improved, with my breathing unobstructed and my body strength up. I have staved off the throat infections that plagued my life and career, infections that prompted me to reach for antibiotics, first thing. Well, my last cycle of antibiotics was in late 2012. Haven’t needed them since (knock on wood that I won’t for a long time). My own ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor), happy to hear this bit of news, asked what I had been doing.
In a nutshell: I’ve been taking probiotics and lots of red meat; avoiding gluten, sugar and other bad carbs; incorporating healthy fats, eating more vegetables, tossing out artificial sweeteners, and getting some exercise. Some of it sounds sensible enough, but the rest? Looks a little weird, no?
Let’s start with the probiotics, or what Rob calls, “falling in love with your gut flora.” There are now billboards advertising probiotics and their effects on one’s immune system and overall health. I don’t know what it is, but since I started taking probiotic supplements daily as well as eating foods containing active cultures (my favorites are plain Greek yogurt, sweetened with a little raw honey, and salted lassi) I’ve been able to avoid getting sick. It’s a small victory with each day that passes, which makes me celebrate a little bit inside.
Avoiding gluten was something my body figured out while working in San Diego on “Allegiance.” My body was starting to react adversely to things like crackers and bread; it felt like I was about to get an asthma attack. So I eliminated the usual suspects and started to hunt for gluten-free food, from pasta to wafers to snacks. The rice cooker at home was used more often, as my mother would prepare gluten-free fare for me to bring to work on matinee days. It certainly sent me on my way to feeling better. My grueling schedule became more manageable. However, I’d still go insane from doing eight shows a week; nothing could save me from that, unfortunately.
As for healthy fats, I just stick with butter (preferably from grass-fed cows… New Zealand butter is great), extra virgin olive oil, and virgin coconut oil, and always in moderation. We’ve actually gone the extra mile and make ghee (Indian clarified butter), with which to cook. A little bit goes a very long way, and everything just tastes better!
So, as strange as that may all sound, it has had a very positive impact on my body. Yeah, it still blows my mind that eating plenty of meat and using butter to cook has had this effect. My mind is clear and quick, my energy level is up, and I’m just a happier human being.
Note that this is what works for me. I cannot say with any degree of certainty that this would work for another person. Discussions with your doctor and doing one’s due diligence can go a long way in discovering the perfect recipe for health. Conventional wisdom might be your way, or not. A bowl of rice might be your best friend, or not. Much like singing in a particular style, you have to figure out what works for you. Some people can make birit while others cannot. R&B might be someone else’s style, while others do standards.
Arming yourself with the information that fits who you are is how you can win your own battle. I wish you only the best of luck!
Let the battle begin!
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